Hours after the National Hockey League announced it has put a pause on the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League followed with news the Junior B League has indefinitely suspended the 2019/20 playoffs due to ongoing concerns regarding COVID-19.
News of the decision was announced on the KIJHL website Thursday afternoon.
“The KIJHL continues to communicate with B.C. Hockey, who is taking direction from health authorities,” the announcement on the KIJHL website said.
“The health and safety of everyone involved in the league is our top priority.”
The website announcement added “when the KIJHL has more information with regards to its playoffs, the league will make an announcement.”
KIJHL Division Finals were to resume on four fronts Thursday evening, including the Nelson Leafs hosting the Beaver Valley Nitehawks at the NDCC Arena.
Nelson is leading the best-of-seven Murdoch Final 2-0.
The KIJHL joins other leagues around the globe that have has suspended operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier this week the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League announced the postponement of the first two games of the playoff series between Campbell River Storm and Oceanside Generals — Tuesday, March 10 an d Friday, March 13.
KIJHL monitors ongoing COVID-19 as playoffs resume
Hockey fans will not see any drastic changes inside arenas when the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League playoffs resume on four fronts Thursday.
When asked by The Nelson Daily if the KI will limit fans during playoff games similar to the ban seen in Washington State of large gatherings of people to help reduce the novel coronavirus, Commissioner Larry Martel said the league is “following the lead from BC Hockey, Hockey Canada and Interior Health Authority”.
Martel directed The Nelson Daily to the KIJHL website for more information.
“The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League is monitoring the ongoing situation regarding COVID-19, more commonly known as the coronavirus,” the release on the KI website said.
“Our staff are in regular contact with BC Hockey and will provide updates to our teams, coaches, volunteers and fans as additional information becomes available.”
The release went on to say the KIJHL is also working closely with BC Hockey to ensure that all recommended procedures and precautions are followed by our teams.
Some of the BC Hockey procedures and precautions include:
- Fist bumps with gloves on instead of shaking hands.
- Following Hockey Canada Safety Program protocols relating to the use of water bottles.
- Frequent hand washing using soap and water for at least 20 seconds or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Towels are not be shared on the team bench.
- Gloves to be worn by staff handling towels or laundry in the team environment.
- Monitoring illness and injuries on all teams, with reporting to the KIJHL and BC Hockey in any instances where symptoms of infectious disease or virus are present.
Wednesday, Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, and Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.'s provincial health officer, issued the following joint statement regarding updates on the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) response in British Columbia.
The announcement said there are seven new cases of COVID-19, for a total of 46 cases in British Columbia. The individuals are in the Vancouver Coastal Health, Fraser Health and Island Health regions.
“We have seen an increase in community cases in the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley in recent days, where the source of the virus infection is not yet known,” the BC Government release said.
“Public health teams are actively investigating, as we continue work to limit the spread of transmission in B.C.”
Wednesday, the World Health Organization declared the outbreak of COVID-19 a pandemic. However, the Health Officials said the virus remains low in BC.
That is not the case south of the 49th parallel where the National Basketball Association, after hearing one of its player test positive for COVID-19, halted the season.
Other professional sports leagues as well as NCAA college basketball have either postponed games, shifted venues or are playing games without fans — the latter includes Division I Men’s March Madness tournament which begins next week.
Hockey fans can guard against the spread of the virus by adopting simple measures used to fight the flu or common cold, including washing hands often with soap and water, covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, avoid others who are unwell, and stay home when sick.
The KIJHL playoff resume Thursday in Nelson with the Leafs hosting the Beaver Valley Nitehawks at 7 p.m. in the NDCC Arena.
The Leafs hold a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Murdoch Division Final. Game four is Friday at the NDCC Arena.
Other playoffs include Kimberley travelling to Invemere to meet the Columbia Valley Rockies in the Eddie Mountain Final, Kelowna Chiefs at Princeton Posse and Revelstoke Grizzlies in 100 Mile House to play the Wranglers in Okanagan Conference action.